Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Smarter than a Fifth Grader

When: Monday evening around 6:30 p.m.
Where: The kitchen counter/bar
Who: Me and my fifth grader, Cole
What: Tough love
Why: Cole's homework

Cole has never been that interested in homework and school can be difficult for him; but it shouldn't be. He's capable of doing well (at least "above average") but he just doesn't care. He has a habit of doing just enough to get by.

He's also gotten into the habit of lying about his homework and various other things in an effort to get what he wants (i.e. to go play with friends, play Play Station, watch TV, etc.) because he knows if his work isn't finished, tests/quizzes studied for, piano practiced, he doesn't get to do the other stuff.

On Monday evening, the scenario was like a re-run for me, and I was tired of trying so hard and putting more effort into his school work than what he does.

I don't regret my decision, but I do have some regret over the way I handled it.

I told Cole that I was not going to push him to get his work finished or to study for tests unless he wanted me to help; then he had to ask for it. I told him I would continue to remind him to get his work finished but I was going to let him put the effort into it. At that point I was handling it well. Then I opened my mouth and said "I don't care if you want to do fifth grade again; it may be easier the second time around anyway."

Up to that point, his guilty conscience was getting the best of him and he was feeling very badly about things; when the thought of having to do fifth grade over again came out of my mouth, it was all he could take. He had to retreat to the safety and solace of his room.

I've had some time to process this and I've apologized for the ways I mishandled the situation. But I remain strong in my position; I'm can't force him to try his best. It needs to be his decision; and when (I'm thinking positively because he's my son and I want the very best for him) he decides to put some effort and heart and guts into things, I will be right there ready to help in any way I can; supporting him while he is trying to be the best "young man of honor" (that's what I frequently challenge him to be) that he can be.

This morning I realized that this scenario isn't really that different than my relationship with my Abba Father.

God can't make me want to be closer to him or make me do my "homework" either; so, he quietly (no nasty comments) and lovingly steps aside and lets me do things my own way.

When I'm ready, he is ready and waiting to help me to and be the best that I can; he forgets about the days, weeks, and sometimes months, that I've only done just enough to get by. He's just pleased that I'm putting in the effort and doing my very best once again.

I decided that I would have to share this with Cole tonight when I got back home hoping that it would encourage him and always wanting to bring Jesus into every life situation of his that I can.

I was dressed and needing to get out the door and on my way to work; a few more things to do and running out of time. And then...

"Tell him now," I hear from my Abba Father. And I did.

I was late leaving for work but arrived exactly on time.

It's another thing I've learned from my "studies": if I want to be a "here I am, use me" person, I need to surrender my schedule. Including the minutes that I gave this morning to leaving my calendar more "open" for other opportunities to present themselves. I have been intentional about not scheduling so many earthly opportunites (many of them "good" things) so that I am more available for the eternal opportunities. Like the one I had this morning.

"...when you seek me you will find me when you seek me with all of your heart..." Jeremiah 29:13


  1. Very good reminder for me to listen to the Voice inside! Thank you. The struggle with your son and homework - according to Love and Logic - you just needed the empathy before stating the consequence of doing the grade over. "Hey, I will love you even if you have to take 5th grade over again." Sometimes being a parent is so hard!

  2. Parenting. Absolutely, hands-down, the most difficult job we'll ever undertake.

    A God has billion-make that trillions or ba-zillions of "kids" to parent.

    Thank you, Father.


  3. It's no coincidence that I read this just after a bout over homework with my daughter.

    Try as I might, I can't be a perfect parent. I don't think any of us can. All we can do is the best we can, I think.

    And now I have another weapon. Next time it happens, I'll remember this post.

  4. Hi, Janelle! Just wanted to stop by and thank you for visiting my photo blog and leaving such a lovely comment. Nice to meet you!


  5. Speaks right to my heart this morning and dovetails with the ever echoing "you are not here for you.". Be blessed today, friend! love, me :)

  6. Beautiful, Janelle.

    I continue to come here, knowing I will find honesty and vulnerability and lessons that are told without sugar-coating the truth. In the process of opening yourself up, YOU BLESS.

    Thank you.

  7. I dont think u mishandled this situation. I'm no parent, but I have seen this happen in my classroom. And sometimes I think we "baby" and "bribe" kids so much that they keep looking for that positive reinforcement. Positive reinforcement is a good thing, but I feel like we as educators (both parents and teachers) dont know how to use it and kids take advantage of it. I think sometimes we just need to tell kids, "Do this, because I said so and you need to do it. " End of story.

    Sorry if my comment made no sense.

    Nice blog btw :)

  8. I remember those times with my little time on my part to help in the right way.

    Lord, help me take the time.

    Have a great blizzardy day....home with some time to take the time!!!